So it’s February now in NYC. And the thermometer recently was in the teens with a wind chill in the minus single digits. You go into a restaurant for a cup of coffee to warm up and visit the bathroom first. You’re still pretty frozen when you get to the sink to wash your hands. You turn on both the hot and cold water faucets but only ice cold water comes out.
The restaurant isn’t a dive but like many owners of commercial properties in the city, I guess economies in operating their space comes with cutbacks to hot water in the taps. I don’t mind it in the summer months, but in the dead of winter, that cold water to wash your ice cold hands is pretty nasty.
I encountered the very same situation this morning in a ladies room on the third floor of Bloomingdales on 59th and Lex. Today, the temperatures are in the 20’s and my hands had already warmed up from taking 2 escalators up from the entrance, so the situation was a bit more tolerable, albeit still mighty unpleasant.
Folks, this isn’t a challenge of aging in society today. It’s bigger than that. It’s the mysteries we all encounter in bathrooms in restaurants, airports, theaters, stores or wherever there are sinks, faucets, soap and paper towel dispensers. There’s no uniform standard for how all of these work so we’re left on our own to figure it out, especially if there’s no one at an adjacent sink who’s figured it out and can give us advisories.
Otherwise, we stand in front of the sink waving our hands in all directions until we know exactly how everything works. There are also the occasions when we think we’ll activate the faucet by hand waving only to find that it’s the old fashioned kind that actually needs to be turned on. “Duh,” I usually say to myself.
Somebody will someday calculate the lost productivity hours caused by this bathroom confusion, unless some legislative body legislates uniform standards for faucets and soap and towel dispensers. No doubt that will cause a revolt by all those who are the bathroom free spirits who like plumbing design diversity and don’t mind the challenges it poses.